Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts

Friday, December 08, 2023

"in a hole in the ground..."

I'm so, so, SO excited. 

Whether it's because I'm a water sign or because I grew up in a city with one of the longest shorelines in the world, I've always loved water. (And this despite being a bad swimmer.) I like looking at water most of all, and I think sunlight on water is the most magical thing ever. 

So I've always gravitated to homes near water, and when we lived on the Pine River in our previous home, it was the happiest I've ever been--with the view (not the rising cost of the home insurance for that place). I was glad our current house has a tiny pond, but I've been wanting to enlarge it forever. And this week, we finally did! 

We dug in a not-straight line and around existing trees and shrubs, and it turned out a bit... crescent shaped? heart shaped? 

Pic: Our tiny pond in the foreground, and the "hole in the ground" (Big A) we've dug. Now to line it, fill it, and enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023


And just like that, it's exam week: I wish I could tell my student people to take deep breaths. Lots of last-minute anxiety, so the days are long, but overall a sense of satisfaction and good endings.

It was the kind of day where I constantly pivoted like a dancer: from sharing the first years' sense of accomplishment in the morning (their first semester at college down, look at the posters they made!) to making notes as students presented on projects they've been working on for six weeks (and marveling at their insights and how skilled they are at encouraging each other!) to a discussion with the college's board of trustees in the early evening (just the department chair and me, we thought it went well). 

That last task reminded me that someone put me on a list of nominees for the MSU board of trustees. When I demurred, EM said (referring to the spate of Title IX missteps at MSU since Larry Nassar) I was totally worthy because at the very least I wouldn't sexually harass anyone. Well, in that case... 

Pic: Amaryllis are blooming in my tea garden. Time to go start the narcissi so they'll be in bloom by Christmas (I say, hopefully).

Sunday, December 03, 2023

outtake/best take

We got the tree up (and by "we," I mean At and Nu) and tried to take a picture for the holiday card.
We usually take a video and then pick a frame or two, but it proved impossible yesterday. You can't even tell that Big A and I are wearing pajamas that match the kids!

I hope you can tell we're all wearing Christmas-tree hats. Although it took me a minute or two to understand why everyone was shying away from the "white, pointy hat." :D 

Pic: Not the best frame, but I think it represents everyone trying to hold it together the best.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

"it's that little souvenir of a terrible year/which makes my eyes feel sore"

I thought I was done collecting snow globes... 

But I was at the store getting personal hygiene products for my students' community service project and this snow globe called out to me. Scout loved Christmas... and I like how this one makes it as though Scout is getting a visit with Santa this year too.

It plays "We wish you a merry Christmas" and I never wind it up all the way, so it plays really slowly and sounds super sad. Like those songs which do double duty with an upbeat happy version and a slower sad version. "Que sera, sera" in The Man Who Knew Too Much is the only example I can think of right now... It's a really big thing in Bollywood films, something the kids love to parody with basically any song. 


It's the first Christmassy thing I've set out this year.

(Big A and I still tear up every day/every other day when we talk about Scout, who took so much of my heart with him. Does anyone have the timeline for when things will get better?)

Pic: Inside a snow globe with Scout and Santa. Wish I could be in there. #It'sMyBlogAndI'llBeMaudlinIfIWantTo
The title is from one of my favorite nostalgic songs from the 90s--The Sundays' "Here's Where the Story Ends." 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

snake sandwiches and puppy scuffles

I guess today continues the theme of elementary-school-level hijinks from yesterday. 

One of my fellow members (on the search committee to hire a biologist at the college) noticed that my eyes got wider and wider the longer the conversation about "arboreal garter snakes" went on. 

They kindly shared this information with the rest of the committee. 

Then the "jokes" started. What do those snakes eat? Well, they don't know about Maya yet. What are we ordering for dinner tomorrow? How about some snake sandwiches? And so on and so on. I'm glad I brought some levity to a work meeting that went on until past 7 pm. 

Snake sandwiches. Shudder.

Pic: (1) Max, (2) a previously-loved stuffie now being used as a chew/tug toy, (3) Huck, and (4) Big A on the floor by my feet as I graded. I can barely tell where Huck ends and the stuffie begins.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

“The Drifting”

I was so sad today to learn that Lynn Rather, a wonderful human and poet, has passed on to another plane. I met Lynn only once--we were billed together at a reading--but she made a strong impression of strength, sass, and cigarette smoke. AK and DD were good friends with her and with her at the end.

from “The Drifting” by Lynn Rather

on nights like this I think
I have not loved enough,
I have not given as much as I could.

snow blows and drifts across fields.
that is what it does.

the wind roars and then is gone.
that is what it does.

they give themselves utterly, and move on.
Pic: The pretty, pretty snow persisted today. I took this from an upstairs window--I'd just stepped out of my room, and my heart lifted on seeing Nu and Max playing outside.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

"Oops, I did it again!"

I just finished Deepa Varadarajan's Late Bloomers the book Nicole inadvertently recommended. It's not terrific, but it is about South Indians in the U.S., and I kept reading out of curiosity.  It's about people in their 50s dating other people after having been married to each other for 30+ years.

Coincidentally, an older colleague of Big A's is going through a divorce at 60+ and I was surprised to hear Big A say that perhaps after 60 people should just stay put in their relationships. I find that disturbing--surely people should be free to start over at any point in their lives? Why should someone live another 30 potential years with someone they don't like?

And then, oops! Straight on the heels of finishing one book about South Indians, I started Abraham Verghese's Covenant of Water and am loving the intensely South Indian location and poetics of it all. There was a moment where a character helps a vendor lift the wicker basket off their head and land it on the ground--and that gesture seemed to tug at some memory of seeing that... in a movie? My grandmother's house? I think the writing is beautiful and the story compelling... but honestly, maybe I like it so much because there are flashes of the city I grew up in? And there's an elephant! What more could I want?

Pic: Big A, Huck (lounging near me), and Max (longing for me). 

Friday, November 24, 2023

And now... leftovers

Things I forgot (or was too tired) to say yesterday.

* There were no in-laws or international students yesterday, and I really missed the expansiveness they usually bring to the table.

* My awesome MIL was the one who told me that I should let people help with the meal if I wanted them to feel at home, and it's very good advice.

* Nu made the biscuits this year and they were terrific--I'd bungled them last year.

* A pinch of turmeric in the pumpkin gravy and regular gravy gave them some extra color and antioxidants. 

* Nu decided to go with a beige palette for dinner--just biscuits, mashed potatoes, stuffing, chicken, gravy. No cranberry sauce, pumpkin gravy, roasted root veggies, or lemon-dressed salad for my baby, apparently. I insist everyone eats their five colors every day, so occasional beige meals are ok. I guess?

* At was so late getting here although they'd promised to arrive early. I fumed for a while, but when I saw At getting out of the Uber (linked to the family credit card) over three hours after texting "OMW," my annoyance somehow melted. I raced towards the car yelling "pumpkin emergency! pumpkin emergency!" At was so bewildered! It was hilarious and it totally made up for everything. I mean... no one wins when you're mad at a kid, anyway.

* We watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special and a charming 2017 movie I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore (recommended, but has flashes of unsettling violence).

*Huck showed Max, whose first Thanksgiving this was, all the ropes on where to position themselves for the best treats and whipped cream licks. We missed Scout--who showed up on multiple So-Thankful-For sheets. We're going to miss Scout extra hard on Christmas because that puppy liked to go BONKERS on Christmas Day.

Pic: Colorful leftovers from yesterday's feast is what's for dinner today.  Pies, not one of which I made, are further down the counter. (And I didn't realize Big A and his computer are kind of photobombing a bit too.)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

chuffed + stuffed at Thanksgiving

I am so thankful for family, friends, and community this year. 

And I'm feeling like a Thanksgiving pro today. After years of hosting, I have a stable menu that pleases and serves everyone. Fifteen years ago, when I started hosting, I'd be in such a dither about what to make--now I know exactly what I'm making and how long it will take. 

In fact, around 11, I realized I was a bit ahead of schedule and that I should save some tasks for when people came around so they could feel like they'd helped with the meal too, so I hit pause. This means that I was able to sneak in a walk and a soak despite the busyness of the morning. Also, I was able to pull all of meal prep off with nary a cut or a burn. 

I didn't get enough pictures, what with orchestrating the ovens, trying to dissuade Nu from cheerfully and charmingly trying to cheat at every Thanksgiving game, and Max going bonkers with first Thanksgiving energy.

Pic: My place setting with the hand-turkey Nu and At made over a decade ago...

Tuesday, November 21, 2023


Things I control: My inbox is at zero, I've graded and sent feedback on every student's project, I'm caught up with committee work... 

Things I do not control: A text informs me of an armed robbery a few blocks away, news of a shooting at a superstore close to where we used to live and where MIL still lives, L tells me she was friends with the MSU student who died in Gaza.

I'm going to take the next two days off to loaf and read and cook and eat and laze and hang out with my people. I shall loaf and invite my soul

Pic: Max and Hucky celebrating with an impromptu tussle at my feet.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

blast off!

It was amazing! 

I fed everyone, talked to everyone, and everyone seemed to have fun. I had 48 of those silk pouches with diyas as favors for the grown up guests, and now they're all gone--I hope they'll bring light and delight in their new homes. 

I've been thinking how Diwali (diya = lamp; wali = chain) so we're supposed to light lamps, but not singly--light one and pass it on... like kindness or empathy.

Now that that's done, and everything is tidied and put away, I want to have small dinner parties so I can linger around the table and chat. But I'll break that to Big A another time. Ha.

Pic: Fireworks at the end of the evening.

Saturday, November 11, 2023


I can't prep Diwali food ahead of time, so I pottered around all day trying to prep everything else. I did the centerpiece, the party favors, and the porch decor. And not that anyone is going to inspect the garden, but I cleared a ton and raked all the paths and sitting area too. 

Big A spent hours trying to get the lights on our LONG driveway to work. People are going to have to park on the street and it would be so awful to walk up our driveway in the dark. Plus inauspicious for a festival of lights! 

BL (who was student, colleague, friend, sister, and is now my adopted nibling) is going to have a little station for people to paint diyas. I thought I had all the little earthenware lamps we'd need from my last trip to India...  But when I took them out today, I realized many of them have swastikas imprinted on them (not in a Nazi way, in a Hindu way--but I feel like I couldn't expose my Jewish friends to something like that anyway). I'm going to have to improvise.

I suspect I'm going to have to improvise a whole lot in the next 24 hours, actually.

Pic: Diwali centerpiece with (flameless, multicolor) tealights; the favor bags are in the background. I plan to fill in the gaps with a flower-petal rangoli. I'll do that tomorrow so they don't wilt before the party. 

Thursday, November 09, 2023

season's change

I am open at this time of the year
I know how to love
        I've built a bed out of longing
        and can't put it down

Pic: Playing "catch" with Max. All I have to do is stomp my foot and yell "catch that puppy!" and Max'll just chase himself all over the yard, running towards me to periodically feint around my feet until he runs out breath. Scout did this too; Huckie would never. Max is very nearly camouflaged amongst the leaves on the ground here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

weekday blur

I didn't get to throw big parties for Big A's 50th or Nu's 16th or really celebrate puja or Halloween in October as I wanted to--so I decided on Sunday morning that we absolutely must have a big Diwali party this weekend. 

By Sunday night, invitations had gone out, favors had been ordered, and the menu was finalized. It helps that Diwali seems to have gone mainstream lately, so I was able to find cute things like Diwali-themed photo booth accessories and treat bags. I guess we're doing this :)!

Today was busier than most Wednesdays as the first-years were registering for next term and there were some emergency meetings and emails on top of my regular schedule. Thankfully, I did manage to snatch an hour for a walk, but at the end of the day, I was really frayed and tired. I did like finding out my "Gender and Popular Culture" course was oversubscribed and has a waiting list though.

Pic: Max's tail is a blur as is Big A's hand. I took this picture to document how Max sleeps on his back as though he's human; Huckie is wedged between my feet and the side of the couch in a slightly more normal way. Please excuse the strange blue cast to everything, the overhead lights are set on some setting called "under the sea" or something.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

in a sweet November

daylight savings time equals
the sky flying the colors 
of the trans flag

I do not even have to slog for 
its full throated support 
of possibility

instead I learn how to just be
how to just breathe
and conjugate joy

Pic: The sky at school bus drop-off yesterday. 

Saturday, November 04, 2023

"Am I dead?"

Am I dead? Are you taking me to the cemetery?" 
The child asked as she was rescued 
from the debris of her home.


Continents away I shake from the horror of this moment... and the beauty and tenderness of it. 

I spent most of the day outside... gardening rather aggressively... pulling things out, raking, mulching. I became so much a part of the landscape these deer didn't even notice me at first.

Pic: Hello from near and deer.

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

can you hear me now?

(for Scout)

I used to whisper to you 
in Telugu
              so you'd know how love sounds   
              in all my languages
                                     saying yes, only yes, 
                                     so it falls like love
                                     yes to all tenderness
                                     which I... become 
              there's still the same world  
              with my changed life  
and somehow eternity 
seems an enemy

Pic: The salad Big A made to go with our tiny pizzas was so good! Shaved artichokes, fennel, grapefruit, and avocado in a lemon-dijon dressing. I don't think I've eaten a raw artichoke before? We decided marinated beans, more parmesan, and ground pepper would be good add-ons for next time. Nu won't be home for dinner this week because of the school play, and it's giving us a taste of how it might feel to be empty-nesters. Pretty cool, actually!

When I picked Nu up, they were holding hands with another theater kid and skipping all the way down the car line. It was adorable. This is so different from the faintly agoraphobic child of last year, and I'm so grateful.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023


No costumes, no party, no decorations, and no trick-or-treaters this year. Boo! But I love everyone else's decorations and costumes and look forward to next year. 

Sweet: So... I have tons of candy left (even after handing lots out in class). There are just two houses on our street with kids (one of them is ours) and both sets of kids are too cool for trick-or-treating. I predict my stress eating will be sweeeet for weeeeks to come.

Sweeter: Heaving a sign of relief for the tentative end of the UAW strike; optimistic that the needle of public opinion is shifting towards a ceasefire in the middle east; thankful for completed extraneous correspondence (difficult student note, colleague's review letter, and students' recommendation letters).

Sweetest: Anticipating Max's delight when he encounters snow for the first time tonight/tomorrow.

Pic: The Red Cedar through the trees. (From Sunday's walk.)

Monday, October 30, 2023

I am a chump-ian

1) It's seasonably cold now (in the 40s), and I asked Nu to wear a jacket to school. They refused, but consented to wear one on their walk to the bus stop to mollify me... IF I would take it from them when the bus arrived and took it back home with me. So that's what I did. They don't have time to go their locker in the morning, and a jacket is a pain to carry around all day. I get it. But also, I felt like a bit of a chump. 

2) I wondered why Big A and I haven't been hiking as much after his job moved back to Michigan... until he sat down and showed me on our calendar: he's working SO many more shifts (Michigan pays way less than Wisconsin). Between that, whatever it is that is making him sick and lose weight, and travel--there just hasn't been time to hike. I feel like a chump for not being able to figure this out by myself.

3) Nu was gone all day (for school and theater) and I let Huck and Max greet them when I brought them home at 8. Max (who loves Nu SO MUCH) got so excited, he couldn't contain himself and there was pee all over the place. Yup, I am a chump; he's still such a puppy, I should have known better!

Pic: Our street was surprisingly colorful although it was so dark when Nu headed for the school bus.

Monday, October 23, 2023

the big day

Big A slept a lot and I had meetings all day, but we regrouped in the evening to sift through messages from family and go out to dinner. 

There was a lot of merriment. 

When I mentioned at the end of dinner how much I'd enjoyed all the jokes and giggling, At said "when are we NOT joking and giggling when we're together?" That is true and it was gratifying to hear the grown up kid validate that.

And perhaps this can be a "take-home gift" to anyone who sees this post--here's Talia Lakshmi Kolluri's amazing short story "The Good Donkey" from her collection What We Fed to the Manticore. I posted a link to this story on family chat, but no one has read it yet.

Pic: Big A with Birthday "bling," birthday cake, and a birthday smile. I know he said no party, but that didn't mean I couldn't go to the party store to buy knick knacks and tiaras that say "golden age" for all of us.

skin, hair, fur

Every night before he leaves for work, Big A has taken to reminding me to let go my feelings of overhwhelm and weltschmerz and focus on the ...